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Title: Proportional structure in the music of Claude Debussy
Author: Howat, R. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1979
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The music of Debussy has always proved exceptionally intractable to conventional analytical approaches. This dissertation combines traditional methods of analysis with consideration of some musical factors normally given little analytical consideration as structural formants, the principal one of these being dynamics. The result is to demonstrate the consistent presence of logical and precisely executed proportional structure, based on the two ratios of bisection and 'Golden Section', in many of Debussy's musical forms, in ways which account both for the precise nature of these forms and for the difficulty of defining them from more traditional standpoints. In doing so the analyses trace ways in which the music's formal organization is influential in defining and conveying the music's dramatic and expressive qualities. The largest work analysed is La mer of 1905, to which Chapter 5 is devoted. Other works analysed in detail include Lisle ioveuse and 'Reflets dans l'eau' of 1904-5. Chapter 1 discusses the theoretical principles and technical problems involved in this approach. Chapter 2 includes critical evaluations of existing proportional studies of musical form, before taking up the first Debussy analysis. Chapter 3 traces the origins and development of these structures in Debussy's earlier works. Chapter 6 shows, more briefly, further parallels in other Debussy works to the proportional structures already seen, and finishes by illustrating Ravel's use of a very similar technique in 'Oiseaux tristes' from Miroirs. Chapter 7 discusses how conscious Debussy is likely to have been of his application of those devices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available